Friday, December 26, 2008

The Pain of Exclusion

We went to a Christmas Eve service at a Baptist church in Georgia. This church recently decided to abandon its downtown location and move to the suburbs where it has built a functional, and actually quite nice, new building.

I was fine with the service for the most part until it came time for communion. The minister asked the deacons to come forward.

More than 20 people rose and came forward.

All of them male.

Every blasted one of them. Male.

Of course I knew going into it that this church did not have women deacons. But seeing those twenty men up there at the front of this huge church, I knew it in a new way--viscerally, in my heart.

I was surprised by how painful it was for me. Tears stung my eyes.

We receive communion, the body and blood of Jesus who was the Christ, to say Yes to being with Christ as the disciples were with Christ. Two thousand years forward in time and that same Christ is present among us, too, and that same Christ continues to invite all to the table, to know this Holy Presence and Power in our lives. No one is excluded. Samaritans? yes. Tax collectors? yes. All are invited.

I found it repugnant that in an action signifying loving and gracious inclusion, radical welcome and holy hospitality, people who happen to be women were excluded from serving.

I declined to participate.

And I believe that Jesus stands with me, weeping the same tears of anger and pain.


mompriest said...

oh my sister, I hear you in your a female priest I live it almost one way or another....

RJ said...

Oh God, Katherine, I'm weeping with you. I can only weep - and join with others trying to make certain the circle includes you and everyone as Jesus intended. Yes, I think Christ is weeping, too. I used to be able to go to the Roman Mass and join in doing simultaneous translation; but one day the masculo-centric language started to catch in my throat and I had to leave... and I've never been able to return. Thank you for your hard, sad, sweet and true words.

adhunt said...

That really is so sad. This is why femenist readings of Scripture are so important. Often in cases like this, "inclusion" vs "exclusion" doesn't ring a bell. "Bible" is the only thing they hear. It is doubly sad because there are even plenty of conservative evangelicals who ordain women!

steve said...

I quite agree with you, Katherine! It's so sad to me that some traditions views of what it takes to obey the word of God means the exclusion of women -- or for that matter, of LGBT individuals, etc.

INTPanentheist said...

You deserve better.